The Untold Story of the Courageous Black Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis

On episode 454 of The Nurse Keith Show nursing and healthcare career podcast, Keith interviews Maria Smilios, the author of The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis. In the course of their conversation, Keith and Ms Smilios discuss how numerous Black nurses fled the Jim Crow south in search of opportunity in the non-segregated north, and how many ended up working at Sea View Hospital on Staten Island, a facility focused on the treatment — and to a large extent the warehousing — of thousands of TB patients.

Listeners may be shocked to learn that the American Nurses Association barred Black nurses from being members until they gave in to pressure in 1949, despite Black nurses’ impressive contributions to the development of the profession.

A native of New York City, Ms. Smilios holds a Masters of Arts from Boston University in Religion & Literature where she was a Henry Luce Scholar and a Presidential Scholar. She also taught Essay and Research writing in the university’s writing program.

In 2007, she left Boston and moved back to New York City to teach at an all-girls high school. There she created and ran an intensive summer writing program for teens.

Maria formerly worked as a development editor in the Biomedical Sciences editing books in lung diseases, pediatric and breast cancer, neurology, and ocular diseases. It was during this time when she read a line in a book that led her to discover the story of the Black Angels.

Through writing the book, she has become in involved in advocating for affordable and accessible TB drugs in TB-heavy countries, working with and supporting organizations such as EndTB and Partners in Health.

In the past, Ms. Smilios has written for The Guardian, American Nurse, Narratively, The Rumpus, Dame Magazine, and The Forward among others.

The Black Angels is her first book.

Connect with Maria Smilios and The Black Angels:

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Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, professional podcaster, published author, award-winning blogger, inspiring keynote speaker, and successful nurse entrepreneur. Connect with Nurse Keith at NurseKeith.com, and on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Nurse Keith lives in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely fiancée, Shada McKenzie, a highly gifted traditional astrologer and reader of the tarot. You can find Shada at The Circle and the Dot.

The Nurse Keith Show is a proud member of The Health Podcast Network, one of the largest and fastest-growing collections of authoritative, high-quality podcasts taking on the tough topics in health and care with empathy, expertise, and a commitment to excellence. The podcast is adroitly produced by Rob Johnston of 520R Podcasting, and Mark Capispisan is our stalwart social media ringmaster and newsletter wrangler.

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